Freethought of the Day

Would you like to start your day on a freethought note? Freethought of the Day is a daily freethought calendar brought to you courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, highlighting birthdates, quotes, and other historic tidbits.

As a member, to receive Freethought of the Day in your email inbox, contact us here. To become an FFRF member, click here. To learn more about FFRF, request information here.


There are 2 entries for this date: Langston Hughes and Terry Jones
Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

On this day in 1901, Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Mo. (Research belatedly found in 2018 that Hughes, who had claimed to be born in 1902, had shaved a year off of his age.) For four decades he chronicled the black experience and perspective in powerful poetry, fiction, nonfiction and children's books. The Nation magazine published his influential essay "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain" (1926), in which Hughes advocated racial pride and independent artistry, giving the Harlem Renaissance its due. He enrolled at Columbia University and finished his degree at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pa., in 1926.

His first book of poetry was The Weary Blues, his first novel was Not Without Laughter (1930) and his first book of short stories was The Ways of White Folks. His play Mulatto (1935) ran successfully on Broadway. His autobiography, The Big Sea, came out in 1940, followed in 1956 by I Wonder As I Wander. Among his many other books was Jim Crow's Last Stand (1943).

Hughes' satire on corruption in black storefront churches, Tambourines to Glory (1963), was not popular with black clergy. Hughes, who traveled widely all his life, had visited the Soviet Union and was forced to appear before a congressional committee in 1953 duing the "Red scare." He wrote a column for 20 years for the Chicago Defender.

Hughes had a complicated relationship with religion, according to Wallace Best, author of Langston’s Salvation: American Religion and the Bard of Harlem (2017).  Hughes strongly disagreed with characterizations of him as anti-religious or atheist while reserving the right to criticize dogma and the Christian church. Best called him a “thinker about religion.”

He never married and was generally seen by contemporaries and later by scholars and critics as gay or perhaps asexual. He died in 1967 in New York City at age 65 from complications after abdominal surgery related to prostate cancer.

PHOTO: Hughes photographed by Gordon Parks in 1943.

Listen, Christ,
You did alright in your day, I reckon—
But that day's gone now.
They ghosted you up a swell story, too,
Called it Bible—
But it's dead now.
The popes and the preachers've
Made too much money from it.
They've sold you to too many.

—from Hughes' poem "Goodbye Christ" (1932)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

Terry Jones

Terry Jones

On this date in 1942, comedian, writer and director Terry Jones was born in Colwyn Bay, Wales. He graduated with a degree in modern history from St. Edmund Hall, Oxford. His first successful TV show, in which he paired up with Michael Palin, was "The Love Show" (1965). Jones became part of the classic comedy TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" (1969-74) with Palin, Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam and Eric Idle.

Jones' irreverent credits include writing and directing the films "Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail" (1975), "Life of Brian" (1979) and "The Meaning of Life" (1983). He has written several books and screenplays, including comic works and more serious writing on medieval history. His first book was Chaucer's Knight: The Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary (1980), an alternative take on Geoffrey Chaucer's "The Knight's Tale." Jones asserted that instead of a paragon of Christian virture, the knight can be interpreted as a typical mercenary and potentially cold-blooded killer.

He married Alison Telfer in 1970. They had two children before divorcing in 2012. They had long had an open marriage. Jones had a daughter, Siri, in 2009 with Anna Söderström, 41 years his junior. They married in 2012.

In 2015 he was diagnosed with primary progressive aphasia, a form of dementia that impairs the ability to speak and communicate.  By September 2016 he was no longer able to give interviews. In 2017 Palin revealed that Jones was no longer able to speak. He died at his London home on Jan. 21, 2020.

There are Jews in the world, there are Buddhists,
There are Hindus and Mormons and then
There are those that follow Mohammed, but
I've never been one of them.

I'm a Roman Catholic,
And have been since before I was born,
And the one thing they say about Catholics is
They'll take you as soon as you're warm.

You don't have to be a six footer,
You don't have to have a great brain,
You don't have to have any clothes on,
You're a Catholic the moment Dad came, because

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great,
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great,
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Let the heathen spill theirs,
On the dusty ground,
God shall make them pay for
Each sperm that can't be found.

Every sperm is wanted,
Every sperm is good,
Every sperm is needed,
In your neighborhood.

Hindu, Taoist, Mormon,
Spill theirs just anywhere,
But God loves those who treat their
Semen with more care.

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great,
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is good,
Every sperm is needed,
In your neighborhood.

Every sperm is useful,
Every sperm is fine,
God needs everybody's,
Mine, and mine, and mine.

Let the pagans spill theirs,
O'er mountain, hill and plain.
God shall strike them down for
Each sperm that's spilt in vain.

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is good,
Every sperm is needed,
In your neighborhood.

Every sperm is sacred,
Every sperm is great,
If a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.

—"Every Sperm is Sacred," song and words by Michael Palin and Terry Jones (1983)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor; photo by Helga Esteb, Shutterstock.com

© Freedom From Religion Foundation. All rights reserved.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

FFRF privacy statement